Former Murky Coffee Owner Nicholas Cho has been arrested on tax fraud charges, according to the Voice of the Hill. Arrested may be too strong a word. He was arraigned last week; a judge then ordered him to get formally booked by D.C. Police on the charges stemming from his massive tax fraud case filed in D.C. Superior Court this past July. He had been charged with 82 counts of tax fraud. By the time he was charged, his tax problems had become well known.
Judging from a review of the court record, Cho’s real big problem: he can’t find a defense attorney. Cho wrote to the court on September 22 pleading for more time to get his legal team in place.
“I am respectfully requesting a continuance for my court date scheduled for 10:00 AM on September 25, 2009 of 2-4 weeks in order to retain an attorney for my case. I have yet been unable to secure the funds to successfully do so, and should be able to within 2-4 weeks.”
Cho is still pro se. At his arraignment, court records show, he appeared without an attorney and entered a not-guilty plea.
On October 23, Judge A. Franklin Burgess ordered that Cho “report directly to the 1st District Police Station” on October 27 at 9 a.m. “for the purpose of booking, fingerprinting, photographing and processing charges.”
4:58 p.m Update:
“I knew he had some tax problems, which were a concern for me, but I assumed that he was working them out,” says Max Brown, former general counsel to the District’s Chief Financial Officer and current co-owner of Chinatown Coffee Co., where Cho is serving an interim general manager.
Brown says that, from the beginning, Cho was a consultant at his gourmet coffee shop, not an employee or partner. Cho’s purpose at Chinatown Coffee, Brown adds, was to help set up the shop and then groom a full-time general manager to take over operations. In fact, the new GM, Travis Edwards, will assume his new post on Sunday, Nov. 1, Brown says.
“As a reputable and credible business owner, I view this as an extremely serious matter, and it is my hope that due process takes its course, however it may turn out,” Brown says.
And will Cho continue at Chinatown Coffee in any capacity in the future? “I have to look at the facts,” Brown says. “We are going to do our due diligence.”
Cho could not be reached for comment. His cellphone’s voicemail message stated that he was not accepting calls at this time.
Cho’s next hearing before Judge Burgess is scheduled for Dec. 10. At which time, a trial date will be set if one has not been set already.
*additional reporting by Tim Carman.